Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.
Modern Marvels is a show on the History Channel that has been airing since 1995 and had produced more than 500 episodes. The show's theme is technology and how human ingenuity and technology have led to advances in our culture. This particular episode is from 2006 and covers the technology of all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks: the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom. Among other topics, it covers a lot of the technology that Disney was at the cutting edge of for many years, including robotics and the system of tunnels below the Magic Kingdom.
Modern Marvels first gives the history and evolution of the Disney Corporation under Walt Disney including his technological groundbreaking films such as Steamboat Willie and Snow White. It then takes the viewer on a brief trip through the development and opening of Disneyland in California, as well as the lessons learned there that motivated the development of Disney World in Florida.
The project almost didn't go ahead after the death of Walt Disney in December of 1966. It took a year for those in the corporation to decide to go ahead with the project and construction itself didn't actually begin until 1969. Have you visited Disney World and seen the name Joe Fowler on one of the ferries? You'll learn here who he is.
For those of us who are Disney aficionados, much of the information contained herein isn't new or groundbreaking. However, there are plenty of interesting tidbits to satisfy everyone from the most rabid fan to the casual visitor to the parks. Since I've not taken any of the behind-the-scenes tours at the park, this was the first opportunity I had to see the utilidors that service the Magic Kingdom. I'm not even sure that they have been shown before to the public on a television show.
The construction of the Magic Kingdom is a sight to behold and really remarkable considering it was built in an era before many of the technological advances made in the ensuing years that would make it much less complicated. Some of the technology used in the Magic Kingdom itself was around for years. Walt Disney had used animatronics for years at both Disneyland and the 1964 World's Fair. The development of even more advanced animatronics for all of the rides at Disney World proved to be a challenge for Imagineers.
The construction of Spaceship Earth in Epcot is fascinating with all of the engineering that went into it. The Disney monorails are looked at in the context of Epcot as well. One of the newest rides in 2006 was Soarin' which is looked at for the technology it represents as well. Finally there's a behind the scenes look at Epcot's nightly fireworks show, Illuminations.
Over at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the technology of the Tower of Terror and how it's changed through the years is revealed. I saw one of my favorite castmembers during this segment, TJ who has been fantastic at creating the atmosphere at the Tower of Terror. Also at the Studios is the Rock & Roller Coaster. The launch technology used here is having real-life implications with other potential uses being examined. Finally there is the Lights, Motor, Action! Stunt Show and the attempt to create a controlled show.
Finally there is Animal Kingdom. On the Safari, there are hints here of the tricks used to keep the animals where the people in the ride vehicles can see them. The technology of building the centerpiece of the park, the Tree of Life, as well as the newest attraction, Expedition Everest is shown in the context of creating atmosphere. Dinosaur presented some challenges for the Imagineers, as well as inspiration for the newest animatronic, one that can sometimes be found roaming around the park.
The show itself seems to have had access to Disney archives and uses archive photographs and film footage, some of which haven't been seen in many years, to give the history of the corporation and the inspiration behind many of the concepts.
My one complaint is that there is so much to show at Disney World, this easily could have been much longer. At 100 minutes in length, it's giving viewers just a taste at how technology was used to create the magic of the Disney theme park in Florida. Still, even knowing all that I do I found it to be a lot of fun to watch.
© 2010 Patti Aliventi
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Viewing Format: DVD